Directed By: John Carney
Starring: Ferdia Walsh Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Raynor
For Fans Of: Almost Famous, Quadrophenia
My Rating: 9 out of 10
I had heard good things about this film before watching it. 'Sing Street' sounded up my street, that was for sure. A coming of age story about a guy who starts a band to get away from troubles in his life and ultimately tries to win over a girl he likes, it sounded cheesy but ultimately I knew with my soft spot for a film about music, I would overlook any negatives and proclaim my liking of the film...so here is the first problem: I didn’t like it. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!
Apologies for the Simon Cowell intro there, but I have to emphasise early on how stunning this film was. I have to admit I was unfamiliar with the director John Carney’s previous work, however it is safe to say I will be clambering through it all very shortly to see what magic he has conjured previously. Let's start first with Carney himself, the writer and director. The script was absolutely brilliant. Funny, touching, to coin a phrase within the movie it was sometimes “Happy Sad”, the story was so wonderfully played out that despite how cheesy it sounds, it felt so right. We follow a young Irish lad called Connor “Cosmo” Lalor, living in Dublin who is getting bullied in school. He meets a mysterious young lady called Raphina who inspires him to start a band and from there you can see a transformation as he grows in confidence, ushers in a sense of style and most of all you can see how music inspires him to rise out of his troubles. I could see so much of my young self within this character and I think thats where the magic of this movie truly shines, the connection to us as an audience is easy because the story felt so real and anyone who has ever picked up a guitar to forget their woes, or simply to get a girl or boy to notice them, will resonate with Cosmo as easily as I did.
Cosmo was played by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, who I had never seen or heard of before. In fact that's like the majority of the cast in truth, yet the performances all round were simply brilliant. Ferdia appears comfortable in the role and perhaps it is because he is an unknown that makes it easy to believe in this character from the get go. You almost felt his own confidence growing throughout the movie, mirroring that of his character's. Lucy Boynton also shines as love interest Raphina and my favourite character throughout was Brendan Lalor, Cosmo’s brother played by Jack Reynor. Every scene he was in felt effortlessly cool and showed a fantastic bond between the two brothers. The casting was truly immaculate, right from top to bottom everyone seemed to fit their roles so well. The leads through to the band and even to the bully who troubles our singing hero early on. It was the relationships between all of these characters that made this so effortlessly heartwarming. The true hero of this movie though, and why it worked so well, is the music.
It's a blend of fantastic 80’s classics mixed with Sing Street's own originals, which for the most part do not feel out of place around the actual classics of the age. Duran Duran’s “Rio", The Cure’s “Inbetween Days” and Joe Jackson’s “Steppin Out” set the atmosphere. They fit perfectly with the scenes they are placed in and each have their own effect on young Connor, who you can see finding his own style. After each different song you can see Sing Street, the band, also moulding their songs around the music they hear. I loved how a lot of these songs were placed in by watching MTV or Connor just being given the vinyls to listen to as homework by his brother, the songs weren’t just over the top of the film, they were part of the story. The originals were also for the most part absolutely brilliant. It was at the moment “Riddle Of The Model” played that I truly thought this film was going to be special. And further originals “Up”, “To Find You” and “A Beautiful Sea” were great songs and perhaps the best thing about them was how believable it was that they could be written by this young band who were just starting out, finding their own sound in the mid 1980’s.
This brings me on to my only criticism of an otherwise fantastic soundtrack and that is I felt the Sing Street originals “Brown Shoes” and “Drive It Like You Stole It” just stuck out a little bit. They were too modern sounding, unlike the others and they felt a little out of era. This didn't ruin the movie of course but it did mean the prom scene toward the end felt cheesy and for me this was the only part of the whole film which felt weak. Clearly that could be because of my own personal musicpreference though and it was not enough to deter my overall love for the movie. This was a fantastic blend of comedy, music, romance and drama that will leave you feeling so warm and fuzzy inside afterwards you won’t need a duvet and in my case... it left me so inspired that I went straight up into my man cave and wrote a song on my own guitar.
Carney found a perfect atmosphere that soothed, touched and invigorated me. The script was sheer brilliance, very funny in parts with delicate feels in others, the cast were phenomenal and the music was fantastic. The message too was inspirational, not letting bullies get the better of you, not letting life get the better of you and chasing big dreams. It was hard not to love what it stood for and I can’t recommend it enough. This was as close as any movie has come to getting into my elusive hall of “Ten out of Tens” and, had it not been for that prom scene, it would have surely made it there. But this for me is my best film of the year so far and it had plenty in it to end up in my favourites of all time list. Now you’ll all have to forgive me as I’m off to try and write an 80’s song like Duran Duran!